March Madness proved mad successful for video on Instagram and other major social-media platforms, and for key online publishers trying to grab fan attention during the three-week college basketball championships.
Off the court, Instagram decisively won the battle among social media platforms, attracting 141 million views of video on its site. That was far ahead of tournament-related videos on YouTube (104 million views) and Facebook (100 million views). Twitter doesn’t make video view data publicly available.
Instagram also was far more successful when it came to engagements, i.e., how often videos are receiving comments, likes, and shares. IG had 15.3 million engagements. That was 10 times what YouTube drew (1.5 million) and seven times Facebook (2.2 million).
Among the top videos on Instagram around March Madness were:
- A hint of 🏆, a touch of 🎉 and a lot of 🏀 by Instagram itself, and drew 3.1 million views.
- Mood All March Madness, from Barstool Sports, which drew 3 million views.
- Tomorrow… We Dance!, from the Purdue Men’s Basketball team, which attracted 2.6 million views.
- Fortnite is Part of the Reason why UMBC completed the biggest upset in MM history, from House of Highlights, which received 2.5 million views.
The most popular Instagram publishers were Best of Sports, House of Highlights, the NCAA’s own March Madness, Syracuse University Men’s Basketball, and theScore. Best of Sports alone claimed 10.4 million views of 68 videos.
Some of those publishers had an obvious home-court advantage when it came to generating popular tournament videos.
House of Highlights, for instance, is owned by Bleacher Report, which is owned by Time Warner’s Turner Broadcasting division. Turner’s TNT, TruTV, and TBS networks carried many of the tournament games along with CBS and will broadcast next year’s Final Four. Its four videos drew 7.8 million views, the best average viewership per video of the top five.
The tournament’s biggest emotional payoff was the historic upset by the 16th-seeded University of Maryland – Baltimore County, which upset No. 1 seeded Virginia in the first round. According to data compiled by Canvs, that upset generated almost 154,000 emotional responses, 10 times the average tournament game and more than double the combined responses to the two (not very competitive) semifinals.
The tournament’s other super Cinderella, Loyola-Chicago, led all teams in generating emotional responses on social, as it made a much-celebrated and remarkable run to the Final Four, Canvs said. The Ramblers were only the fourth team seeded 11th or below to make it to the Final Four.
The men’s tournament ended in a bit of a whimper, with those so-so semifinals and a championship game Monday night that featured top-ranked Villanova easing to a double-digit win over Michigan. That likely contributed to a lowest-ever 10.3 rating for the game broadcast (2017’s game drew a 10.4).
That said, the entire men’s tournament still generated an estimated $1 billion in revenue from 142 brands, which ran 391 ads nearly 6,800 times through the three weeks of games, according to iSpot.TV, which tracks ads partly through Smart TV data.
For comparison, February’s 16-day Winter Olympics saw 258 brands and 622 ads generate an estimated $1.4 billion, iSpot said. The Super Bowl, which also saw near-record-low ratings, had 60 brands run 94 ads that generated $420 million.